Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Thursday ordered both full and redacted versions of the memos by Monday as he decides whether or not to release them to the public, Bloomberg reported.
Boasberg will make the determination as part of a 2017 Freedom of Information Act case brought by CNN, other media outlets and conservative organization Judicial Watch.
Comey revealed after he was fired in May 2017 that he had jotted down contemporaneous notes and written memos from them after meetings with Trump. The memos included Comey’s accounts of talks with Trump when he said the president pressed the director on his “loyalty” to him and urged Comey to drop an investigation of the president’s former national security adviser— and now convicted felon — Michael Flynn.
The public should be permitted to see the full memos because Trump and Comey have accused each other “of grave breaches of the public trust,” and the documents include crucial “contemporaneous records of disputed conversations,” CNN argued in a January filing.
Comey testified to Congress in June 2017 that he arranged for one of the memos to be leaked to The New York Times in hopes of triggering an investigation. Special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed the day after the Times’ story on the memo.
Trump insisted at the time that Comey lied about the encounters and hinted that he had tapes of the conversations. Comey responded: “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.” Trump has not produced any tapes.
The Justice Department had argued to the judge earlier this month that the files still redacted are classified and should remain secret because of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The investigation has ended, and a report has been delivered to Attorney General William Barr.
Barr, in his summary to Congress of Mueller’s report, said the special counsel did “not establish” Trump campaign collusion with Russia and yet also did “not exonerate” the president of obstruction of justice. Comey said Wednesday on NBC that he couldn’t “quite understand” why Mueller didn’t make a final decision on obstruction claims.